Imagine turning up to your own party, and recognising no one. Your best friend has just created your worst nightmare.
Louisa is an exhausted, sleep-deprived new mother and, approaching her fortieth birthday, the very last thing she wants to do is celebrate.
But when her best friend Tiff organises a surprise party, inviting the entire list of Lou’s Facebook friends, she’s faced with a new source of anxiety altogether: a room full of old college classmates who she hasn’t spoken to in twenty years. And one person, in particular, she never expected to see again is there – her ex-boyfriend from college, the handsome and charismatic Oliver Dunmore.
When Oliver’s wife Melissa goes missing after the party, everyone remembers what happened that night differently. It could be the alcohol, but it seems more than one person has something to hide.
Louisa is determined to find the truth about what happened to Melissa. But just how far does she need to look…?
One simple Facebook invitation unfolds into something both tragic and monstrous; a story of obsessive love, breath-taking deception and masterful manipulation.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Like many psychological thrillers, this one has a strong family drama theme. Written in the third person from Louisa’s point of view, it focuses almost exclusively on her emotions, motivations, observations and thoughts, This does mean that the other characters in the story fade into to the background, even though they are in many cases key to the storyline.
Louisa is an unreliable protagonist, sleep-deprived, looking after a young baby. She may also be suffering from postnatal depression, but because everything is seen from her point of view, and she has no insight into her mental health, this possibility is alluded to, but not explored. Diagnosed with dissociative amnesia, where the person cannot recall personal information, not explained by ordinary forgetting, usually triggered by trauma or extreme stress.
The plot is for the most part believable, the pacing varies, but you are drawn into Lousia’s story. How much of it is in her mind? Is her paranoia, justified, or a symptom of her mental state? Despite her unreliability, I did sympathise with Louisa. The remainder of the characters, could all be guilty of something, with the exception of Emily her teenage daughter, who I also like, especially as she realises how fragile her mother is, as the story progresses, and supports her, the best she can.
The clues and the misinformation are integrated into the plot well, but they didn’t surprise me. The final few chapters are bizarre, but not unimaginable, who knows what they would do in those circumstances?
Missing in Wales, the first in an exciting new Welsh-set crime series by Jenny O’Brien, author of The Stepsister. The next in series, Stabbed in Wales, will be available soon.
Alys is fine – don’t try to find us
Izzy Grant is haunted by the abduction of her newborn daughter five-years ago.
When a postcard arrives from her missing partner, the man she believes is
responsible, saying they’re fine and asking her not to try to find them, she
knows she can’t give up hoping. Then she sees a face from her past. Grace
Madden. Just where did she disappear to all those years ago? And is there a
connection between her disappearance and that of her child?
DC Gabriella Darin recently transferred from Swansea, is brash, bolshie and dedicated. Something doesn’t fit with the case and she’s determined to find out just what happened all those years ago.
It’s the first time you’ve been out with her by yourself.’
nagging, Izzy. We’ll be fine, won’t we, gorgeous?’ Charlie said, bending
on his haunches and gently running his finger down his daughter’s plump cheek,
her dark blue eyes staring back at him. ‘We’re going to let your mammy have
some rest while we go to the shops. It’s time we got better acquainted. I can
tell you all about football and which team to support.’
‘You will not. Don’t
listen, Alys. There’s only one football team worth supporting and it’s not
his,’ Izzy teased, feeling redundant now that Charlie had stolen her attention.
This would be the
first time they’d been apart since the birth and already she could feel the
bonds of motherhood straining at the thought of Alys being out of her sight,
even if it was only for half-an-hour. It had only taken a week for her world to
shrink to the boundary walls of the house. But she’d never been happier.
Her eyes grazed the pair of them and love-filled every corner. They needed this time, both of them and a few minutes alone after another interrupted night’s sleep would be like a gift from the gods.
about a goodbye kiss from your pretty mam then?’ he said.
Pushing himself to
standing, the car seat in the crook of his arm, he leaned in for a kiss
reminiscent of the best Hollywood romances.
thing,’ she laughed. But secretly she was pleased, more than pleased.
She watched as he
reversed the Mini into the road and continued watching until they were out of
sight before returning to the warmth of the house. She slipped off her shoes by
the front door, fumbling into her slippers and heading for the kitchen. There
was washing and ironing, not to mention food to prepare. There were so many
things she knew she should be doing but she felt sick with tiredness. With a
mug of tea in her hand, she returned to the sofa and, feet propped up on the
end, rested back, allowing the silence envelop her.
There was always
noise in the cottage. It wasn’t Charlie’s fault that he was one of those men
you could hear long before you could see them: Charlie, her one-night-stand,
who seemed to have taken up root in both her house and her heart. He was always
clomping around the place with a heavy tread and if it wasn’t him, it was one
of his mates he’d invited back for her to feed. The house suddenly felt empty
with the pervading sound of silence.
She’d close her eyes; just for five minutes…they’d be back soon.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
An atmospheric, emotional police procedural, with a refreshingly unique storyline, and a complex and interesting female detective.
Izzy’s story is tragic, and the chance for closure, has her contacting the police again, even though it will mean revisiting her painful past. This is a character-driven story, and the players are believable. Izzy is easy to empathise. The pacing is a little slow in the first third of the story but picks up as the plot twists start.
DC Darin has secrets, but good instincts and insight, which prove to be pivotal in solving the case. The ending is suspenseful, and though I did guess who the antagonist is, the clues are there, if you look, the ending’s impact resonates.
Definitely, a series I would like to read.
Jenny O’Brien was abandoned in Dublin at the tender age of 17 by her parents when they decided to move to Wales. It was only on the completion of her studies that she was finally able to join them. She’s an avid reader and book blogger in addition to being a RoNA book judge. She writes for both children and adults with a new book coming out every six months or so. In her spare time, she can be found frowning at her wonky cakes and even wonkier breads. You’ll be pleased to note she won’t be entering Bake-Off. She’s also an all-year-round sea swimmer. Jenny currently resides on the island of Guernsey with her husband, children and cats. She works as a nurse and writes in her spare time. Readers can find out more about Jenny from her blogFacebookTwitter
Giveaway to Win a signed copy of Missing In Wales and the chance to be a character in the next book STABBED IN WALES. ( UK only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Tess Piper was fourteen when her adored twin sister Edie disappeared.
She has spent the last twenty years building a life away from her fractured family, desperate to escape the shadow of the past.
Only now she needs to confront the huge hole her sister’s disappearance left in her life because a body has been found. The police are shining a spotlight on the Piper family. And secrets are about to surface.
After all, it’s common knowledge that more often than not, these crimes are committed by someone close to the victim. Someone they trust. Someone they know…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story is a fusion of family drama and psychological thriller and it works. Tess Piper is an unreliable protagonist, she is still grieving the disappearance of her twin sister twenty years later and lives her life on the edge as a memorial to her twin. She drinks and smokes too much and is estranged from her close family.
Told from the twins’ points of view, one historic and one present day, the background to Edie’s disappearance and its subsequent effect on Tess and her family’s life is explored. The characters are believable and in most cases hard to empathise, but you do understand why they are as they are.
When a body is found, Tess has to return home and confront the secrets she’s been hiding from. The story is easy to read but much of it is dark and you feel Tess and her family’s emotional angst. The plot is deceptively simple, but just as you think you know what happened, another piece in the puzzle is revealed and another player introduced.
This is an authentic family drama, full of poignant events. I did manage to work who betrayed Edie but not all the circumstances.
A well thought out domestic thriller with strong characters and a clever plot.
I received a copy of this book from Killer Reads via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is an atmospheric tale, with a small town setting, twisty plot and well-crafted characters. Excellent pacing and flow make this such an absorbing and easy read.
Told from Emily’s point of view, as she answers her sister’s request to return to her home town after many years of absence, you discover that Emily is not keen to return, but the reasons why only become clear as the story progresses.
Ordinary events take on sinister connations and everyone has secrets. Emily’s fear and not knowing who to trust comes across well in this story. She feels alone and vulnerable, but this is what makes her determined to solve her sister’s disappearance, whatever the personal cost.
A good domestic suspense novel, that draws the reader in, from the first page.
She stood and took her place in front of the camera… It was now or never”
Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their father has a stroke her search takes on new urgency. So when primetime game show, What Happens in France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.
With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high maintenance quiz host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye. Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons they find that the search that brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish…
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Bryony decides entering a game show is the best way to publicise her search for her sister. Hannah left home when she was sixteen, and although Bryony has always sought to reconnect with her, through her blog, when her father becomes ill, the need to reach Hannah is vital.
A chance for romance presents in the form of Lewis, not only cute but a lovely person, who is prepared to help Bryony in her quest to find Hannah. Winning the game show is not the main reason for entering, but it becomes important, leading to many humorous moments, as they battle against the other competitors.
Bryony and Lewis head a great character list, whose true personality traits soon become evident as the competition progresses. Not everyone is likeable, but that adds to the authenticity.
The trip through France and the food make this a sensual delight and the challenges the teams face in the game show, absorbing and realistic.
A character-driven, romantic-comedy full of vivid imagery. The perfect book to escape with for a little while.
Guest Post – Carol Wyer – GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
of this post was actually the working title of my latest book until I had an
epiphany before I submitted it to Canelo and changed it to What Happens in France.
always found coming up with book titles one of the most difficult parts of
writing a book. I remember my debut novel (Mini
Skirts and Laughter Lines) was called A
Twinkle in My Wrinkle until an hour before it was published! Titles are
hugely important and even though I spend hours awake going through what I think
might work, I don’t always get it right and my publisher invariably changes
them to something more appropriate.
Titles aren’t always the only part of the book that causes me mental anguish. In the case of this book, it wasn’t the plot or the characters, it was coming up with ideas for crazy games for a reality television show that would be highly entertaining.
took some doing but I was really pleased with the results. One of easiest to
conjure up was a race up a steep hill in beautiful rural France. This wasn’t
taxing at all because not only have I raced on the circuit at Castle Donnington
but for many years I lived in the Tarn and Garonne region, near a town called
St Antonin Noble Val that hosts such a hill climb every August 15th. It’s an
incredibly popular event, attracting racing drivers and amateurs alike and
about half the population of the region who line the twisted route from the
bottom of the hill in the picturesque medieval bastide town to the summit some
250 metres high.
The course de circuit is 1.5 kilometres long and that may not sound very special or spectacular but believe me, it is. The route runs along the jaw-dropping Aveyron Gorges with phenomenal views to the river where canoeists anchor their kayaks to observe the race, while others jostle for space behind massive hay bales that line the road.
noise is phenomenal – a growling that fills the valleys like a hundred angry
dragons battling for supremacy. Each car ascends, engine at full throttle and
navigates the sharp bends and turns, hurtling towards the finish line, egged on
by eager cries and cheers.
Bryony and Lewis take on a similar challenge in their furry 2CV, I thought back
to the eager faces, the supportive crowd and buzz of excitement that
accompanied the event at St Antonin. No matter if you aren’t a car enthusiast,
you can’t help but be captivated by the setting and the atmosphere, and in no
time at all, you find yourself cheering along with the others.
hope you’ll root for Bryony and Lewis in What
Happens in France, although they’re up against fierce competition and
you’ll find your loyalties tested. Besides, the host of the show isn’t keen for
them to win… why not? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
FROM WHAT HAPPENS IN FRANCE:
‘Come on, Furby!’ Lewis pumped the accelerator pedal. The sunshine streaming in through the windscreen was causing him to squint. At last, the car sputtered into life and they made it onto the starting line.
La Pommeraye was a 2.5-kilometre hill climb and the trio of bizarre cars and film crew had attracted a large crowd of supporters who lined the closed circuit, cheering for each of the contestants as the cars raced by. Lewis and Bryony were the last to attempt the climb.
They waited by the lights, currently on red. It seemed to take an age for them to change.
‘Go… go… go!’ Bryony yelled as they tore up the hill past the spectators who waved at them. ‘Right bend!’ The car bore to the right, past a house outside which stood three children holding a sheet marked Allez Furby.
‘We have fans,’ said Bryony, clinging to the grab handle as they rejoined the main road and hastened past more fields. The circuit was an ordinary D road with some sharp bends and twists, railings to one side and all exits blocked off. It made for an exciting circuit although the furry Citroën was nowhere near as fast as the cars that usually competed in the annual hill climb.
Bryony adjusted her racing helmet. The strap was tight under her chin and she had to shout so Lewis could hear her commands. He could see the bends but it helped if she warned him of them too, given he had enough to manage with handling the vehicle.
There was no time to take in the fields of meadow flowers or the cows lazily grazing or the high banks of grass filled with people. Lewis was committed to finishing the race in the fastest time possible without crashing, and Bryony to holding on for dear life.
A bend to the left, another sharp one to the right and an inflatable bridge across the road bearing the name of the show. Cameras to the left and the right and cheering French people. They crossed the line.
Bryony high-fived Lewis. ‘Great driving.’
‘Bit different to that track day I did but not bad at all,’ he replied.
They climbed out of the car hoping they’d done enough to win the challenge.
As a child, Carol Wyer was always moving and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published and journalism in many magazines.
Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.
Francine Day is a high flying lawyer about to apply for silk, ambitious and brilliant. She just needs one headline-grabbing client to seal her place as queen’s counsel … Martin Joy. The attraction is instant. Obsessive.
They embark on a secret affair, and Francine thinks she can hold it together. But then Martin’s wife goes missing. And Martin is the prime suspect. Francine is now his lawyer, lover and the last person to see Donna Joy alive.
‘Mine’ is an enjoyable read. The legal setting is interesting. The professional trust between a lawyer and client broken by the protagonist pushes her into the unreliable protagonist territory. Her mental health issues may also make her observations and perceptions questionable from the reader’s point of view.
A well written psychological thriller, regarding mystery, menace, pacing and suspense. The themes are well tried in this type of novel as are the characters; the mentally unstable obsessive mistress, the ruthless businessman for whom reputation and money is everything, but if you enjoy psychological thrillers the polished presentation of this one will please.
The mental disintegration of the Fran, the main protagonist, is realistic as are her actions, many of the choices she makes are bad, but they are understandable and therefore believable. The final chapters are atmospheric and suspenseful, aided by a wonderfully gothic setting and inclement weather.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins- Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.